Optimizing Asphalt Mixtures for Low-volume Roads in Minnesota


Manik Barman, Heena Dhasmana, Vishruthi Manickavasagan, Mihai Marasteanu

August 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-34

Minnesota has a large number of low-volume asphalt roads. These roads typically fail because of environmental factors, such as frigid temperatures, freeze-thaw cycles, and seasonal and daily temperature variations. The goal of this study was to suggest modifications to asphalt mixture designs currently used for low-volume roads in Minnesota to improve the resistance of the mixes against the environmentally driven distresses. The study was conducted by accomplishing multiple tasks, such as a literature review, online survey, fieldwork studying the cause of the asphalt pavement distresses, laboratory work comparing asphalt mixtures designed with Superpave-4, Superpave-5, and regressed air voids methods, and studying the field compaction of Superpave-5 mixes. The mechanical performance of the asphalt mixes was studied by conducting Disc-Shaped Compact Tension (DCT), Indirect Tensile Strength (ITS), and Dynamic Modulus (DM) tests. The study included both laboratory- and plant-produced mixes. The study found that asphalt layers for the low-volume roads did not get enough densification, which augments environmentally driven distresses, such as thermal cracks, and longitudinal joint cracks. The Superpave-5 method holds considerable promise for the design of asphalt mixtures for low-volume roads in Minnesota, which may likely increase the asphalt layer densification and mitigate some of the common distresses.

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